Shanghai’s revised rules on population management sparked uproar online, which requested visitors to register their personal and dwelling information if they stay in the megacity for more than 24 hours. Analysts say that the new move would spread to other big Chinese cities to tighten the CCP’s grip over public migration.
On April 1, Shanghai authorities rolled out an update to its provisions on inhabitants, asking short-term visitors who stay more than 24 hours for the purpose of medical treatment, study, travel, business, etc., except day-trippers to register.
The update imposes increased penalties between 200–1,000 yuan ($30 to $152) to that of 500–5,000 yuan ($76 to $761) on employers, agencies, markets, realtors, and lodging service providers which fail to register information within two business days.
The sudden changes ignited controversy online, which saw rocketing views of 160 million people.
Lawyer Zhang Xinnian posted on the Chinese social media site Weibo on April 2: “I thought it was a joke on Fools’ Day when I found it on self-media. I didn’t believe it until I saw relevant media reports. No idea why authorities did that. It lacks operability and runs counter to the image of an inclusive international metropolis.”
A netizen questioned: “OMG. Isn’t this discrimination … sanction? Do we need to boycott this?”
An internet user named Obamao forwarded two comments on his social media account, with the original senders’ names hidden to protect their identity:
“Even the late Qing dynasty [rulers] didn’t roll out this,” and “Shanghai might go further to declare independence and call itself the State of Hu or the Shanghai Special Administrative Region.”
The Qing dynasty is believed to be the most conservative in Chinese history with authorities having closed the borders with trading nations.
Hu is an abbreviated form in Chinese for Shanghai.
Another netizen with the username Dao Kan Tian Xia commented: “I believe the city should build a separation wall and military outposts along its borders. All visitors should go to Shanghai’s embassies in [China’s] provinces first and apply for visas to the city!”
In response to flooding criticism, Shanghai authorities released an official statement on its site, calling allegations a misinterpretation. They claimed that the new move was to enhance the level of their service to out-of-town inhabitants and that info registration was voluntary, not mandatory, for individuals.
However, this explanation did not quell public doubts.
China commentator Cao Ji analyzed in an April 1 Tweet: “The Xi-led CCP is preparing for China’s [coming] collapse. As China’s financial center, Shanghai’s real estate and stock market would be the first to be hard hit once a global financial crisis erupts in a couple of years. The city could be the worst among emerging markets [in the world]. So, it could be a planned action in advance by the CCP against uncontrollable chaos in the event of a financial crisis.”
China news analyst Qin Peng echoed Cao Ji’s statement. He expressed on April 2: “I don’t think the government of Shanghai city is telling the truth to the public. They’re really likely to be exploring a stricter social control model, which would be expanded to other parts of the country later.”